Mr. Food loved people, easy-to-make dishes and his favorite meal "in the whole world" -- a simple tomato sandwich with lettuce and mayonnaise.
It's fitting fare for one of South Florida's own TV chefs and cookbook authors, also known as Art Ginsburg. The owner of the Fort Lauderdale-based Mr. Food company died last night at his home in Weston at age 81 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Food was one of America's first "celebrity" TV chefs -- albeit a lovably goofy one. Unlike Julia Child or Anthony Bourdain, he willingly embraced processed foods and easy one-pot recipes that made him the unofficial king of the Crock-Pot. His tagline was "Ohhhh, it's so good!"
-- Mr. Food at the Seminole Casino on Christmas
-- Mr. Food Gets Grilled: A Q&A
Best known for his easy-to-follow recipes any Betty
Crocker era cook could appreciate, Ginsburg made his TV debut in upstate New
York on a local morning program, which was later syndicated to several
television markets in the early 80s. In 2007, he was appearing on 168 stations. These days you can still catch
Ginsburg's 90-second on-air cooking instruction segments, which are syndicated to more than 100 local television stations around
the country, including West Palm Beach's WPBF Channel 25.
The company website is another way to get your fill of Mr. Food for the
day, where you'll find a plethora of recipes for simple meals that cover one-pot dishes,
casseroles, and slow cooker dinners -- even the no-oven-required dessert
featuring nothing but Cool Whip, Kalua and cookies, like the one Ginsburg made with Conan O'Brien on the Late Night Show
back in 1997.
So what will happen to Mr. Food now? According to Mr. Food Chief Operating Officer Howard Rosenthal, who has been with the company for the past two decades, the show must go on.
Rosenthal said he will continue to carry on Ginsburg's vision through the company's Fort Lauderdale-based offices and TV studio, which recently began producing a similar 90-second television segment known as the "Mr. Food Test Kitchen" -- a short cooking instruction program that did not star Ginsburg, which will continue to air during all Mr. Food syndicated time slots nationwide, Rosenthal told Clean Plate Charlie.
Along with the production of a popular e-newsletter packed with recipes and cooking tips sent to 150,000 subscribers six days a week, the Mr. Food website -- which receives about 1.7 million unique page hits and an average of 10 million page hits each month -- will also continue to operate as usual, with updated recipes and food blog entries. There are also plans to roll out a Mr. Food app and cookware line, part of the company's vision to expand the brand to a larger audience.
For a final farewell, we had to ask: what was Mr. Food's favorite recipe?
"His favorite meal in the whole world -- if there was one thing that he could have eaten every day of his life -- it would have been one of his homegrown tomatoes on a sandwich with just lettuce and mayonnaise," said Rosenthal. "It didn't have to be fancy food. It just needed to be made with a touch of love. [Ginsburg's] whole philosophy was that it wasn't about the food on the table so much as the people sitting down to eat it. If you could make a good meal quickly and have more time to spend with your friends and family, that was what [Mr. Food] was all about for him."